Rob Minto

Sport, data, ideas

Month: July 2005

Safe hands

There isn’t that much that I feel bothered about at the moment, aside from the usual <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/teams/n/newcastle_united/4726855.stm”>Lee Bowyer nonsense</a> (he feels betrayed that Newcastle were looking to sell him, despite bringing the club into disrepute at least twice in his short career with them. Tosser.)<br />
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But instead, I was interested to see that the Guardian were promoting a <a href=”http://sport.guardian.co.uk/smalltalk/story/0,13852,1538145,00.html”>David Seaman interview</a> on the sports section. What has old “safe hands” got to say?<br />
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Nothing. It’s the most boring interview I have read in a long, long time. <br />
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Example question: “<b>Do you know how much a pint of milk costs?</b><br />
No. I do my shopping at Waitrose and they have a barcode machine where you just pay it off.”<br />
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Why do they bother?

Our generation

In every generation there are sporting greats that transcend their events. Alongside names such as Tiger Woods, Roger Federer, Carl Lewis, Michael Schumaker we should add Lance Armstrong. The Tour de France is the toughest event, and seven straight wins is a feat enough, but after battling cancer as well…<br />
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On a totally different thought, the <a href=”http://www.minto.net/bbc_ashes.jpg”>BBC departments really should talk to each other</a>. Why promote “live” coverage of the Ashes test at Lords on a Monday morning, when it was all over the evening before? In fact, they just needed to look further down the page. How embarrassing. Wakey wakey!

Thorpe gets his timing wrong

Why?<br />
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Why would you retire from international cricket during the ashes series, indeed mid-way through the first test?<br />
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Why would you reitre when the selectors said that their decision to leave you out was the hardest they had ever made?<br />
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Why retire when clearly, if one batsman gets injured (and given the way these teams are playing, that looks distinctly possible) you are next in line to get straight back in the side?<br />
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Why should the excuse of a new baby be used? It’s not an overseas tour, for Christ’s sake.<br />
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Graham Thorpe has been a brilliant player for England, but his timing for once, is completely off. It seems churlish, pointed and sour. Anyway. <a href=”http://statserver.cricket.org/guru?sdb=player;playerid=2093;class=testplayer;filter=basic;team=0;opposition=0;notopposition=0;season=0;homeaway=0;continent=0;country=0;notcountry=0;groundid=0;startdefault=1993-07-01;start=1993-07-01;enddefault=2005-06-05;end=2005-06-05;tourneyid=0;finals=0;daynight=0;toss=0;scheduledovers=0;scheduleddays=0;innings=0;result=0;followon=0;seriesresult=0;captain=0;keeper=0;dnp=0;recent=;viewtype=aro_summary;runslow=;runshigh=;batposition=0;dismissal=0;bowposition=0;ballslow=;ballshigh=;bpof=0;overslow=;overshigh=;conclow=;conchigh=;wicketslow=;wicketshigh=;dismissalslow=;dismissalshigh=;caughtlow=;caughthigh=;caughttype=0;stumpedlow=;stumpedhigh=;csearch=;submit=1;.cgifields=viewtype”>Here is his record for England</a>, and it’s brilliant. What the figures don’t tell you is the gritty, ugly runs he made in a crisis – not always a century, but worth more in some cases. I hope he changes his mind, if the call comes.<br />
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And read an excellent piece on Thorpe <a href=”http://content.cricinfo.com/wcm/content/story/210343.html”>here</a>

An apology

Well it seems a have upset a few people by mentioning that having friends over to watch the Lions wasn’t always that much fun. Let me just explain that it was LOVELY to see everyone, and I would have been much happier if we had won. All my guests were charming, and very helpful. But I think we are all glad to have the Saturday lie-in back, and let’s move on, shall we?<br />
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Firstly, I don’t talk about golf, mainly because I don’t like it. I don’t like golf clubs, I don’t like golf attitude, and I don’t like American golf fans. The Ryder Cup doesn’t count – that’s fun, and it’s an underdog thing.<br />
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And then there’s Tiger Woods. When a player transcends their sport, like Tiger, you just have to take notice. 10 majors before turning 30 is a scary achievement, and like Roger Federer, you know you are in the process of watching a potential best-of-all-time player as it unfolds.<br />
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As an aside, is there anyone Lleyton Hewitt can’t piss off? He is now in trouble with, wait for it, the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby for <a href=”http://foxsports.news.com.au/story/0,8659,15965389-23216,00.html”>calling the umpire a “poof”</a> during the testy Davis Cup match against Argentina. Brilliant. I love Lleyton, because he can be a total prick and I think he knows it, yet he also seems a genuine nice guy off the court. More please.

Getting angry

Who said tennis was boring? Hewitt and Coria are really trying to up the agression levels, it seems – <a href=”http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/tennis/4681275.stm”>check out this story</a> from the Davis Cup. My favourite quote:<br />
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“To be perfectly honest, he’s arrogant, and he lost the match today and he’s looking for every excuse in the book. He’s a sore loser.” Go Lleyton.<br />
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In the big footie story of the week, Viera is off to Juve. I expect Arsenal’s persistent failure to achieve anything in Europe is the main reason. Interestingly, most of the Arsenal chat on the web about it is a mixture of sadness and disbelief at Wenger, rather than the usual “traitor” abuse at the player himself. The assumption is that Wenger MUST have someone lined up to replace him. Surely.<br />
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Well, perhaps not. Wenger might well feel that Fabregas and Flamini are good enough to cope in the centre of midfield. But if Arsenal flounder and only come 4th this season, I would expect a bit more anger from the fans.

Pietersen’s Ashes?

So, England have taken the plunge and dropped Graham Thorpe for Kevin Pietersen at #5.<br />
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This is either brilliant or deeply stupid, but it all rests on the top order. If Strauss and Trescothick get good starts, and Vaughn and Bell can keep it going, then KP, Flintoff and Geraint Jones could be the most destructive middle-order the game has seen, well, almost ever. They can all belt quick-fire runs, demoralise bowlers and play merry havoc. <br />
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But if the openers fail and wickets fall, how will Pietersen and Freddie deal with a 3-40 or even a 4-30 situation? That’s the moment you want Thorpe in. Hitting your way out of trouble with McGrath and Warne bowling at you might work, but probably not that often. Can KP graft those ugly runs? <br />
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If anything, this selection is a huge vote of confidence for the top 4 batsmen. Let’s see if it works. At least in a 5-test series, you have time to get Thorpe back in the side if required.

Thank God that’s over

A few thoughts about the Lions tour.<br />
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The All Blacks are good, but frankly they were handed at least 4 tries on a plate in the test series. If the Lions had capitalised on their good starts in the 2nd and 3rd tests, it might have been more of a contest.<br />
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Sir Clive Woo Woo is clearly nuts. He got lucky in the World Cup, had a team that pretty much managed itself, and now has been found out to be a fairly crap coach. He is nuts because he picked a team from the past, never gave Andrew Sheridan a chance to scare the opposition in the tests, and kept ignoring form players. He is crap, because when your team can’t catch a ball at the restart, the coaching must be at fault.<br />
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Everyone is looking at Clive here, but surely there were other people in selection meetings. Why didn’t O’Sullivan, McGeechan or someone say “look, this is stupid – you can’t pick HIM.” Did everyone agree on, say, dropping Henson or picking Robinson? Couldn’t he be stopped?<br />
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But aside from all the rugby anguish (Why, Why, WHY?) the biggest reason I am relieved is that I don’t have to see my friends at 8am anymore. I don’t have to provide breakfast, I don’t have to act chummy in the morning. I can sleep in on Saturdays. I can get to work on time on Tuesdays. I can take that sodding Lions poster down from the wall.

7 years to get it right

I was a huge sceptic about London hosting the Olympics. Now I am not so sure.<br />
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I wrote about a year ago in London Business Matters that it was a financial disaster waiting to happen, but the details of the bid have been surprisingly well thought-out. I still think it will cost Londoners much more then they currently think, but if there is a proper regeneration plan for East London, then it might well be worth it.<br />
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But I also am happy as I have grown to resent the French assumption that they were the best bid just because they have a stadium already built. If Paris were to have won the 2012 games, they would have hosted, hmm, lets see:<br />
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1998 World Cup<br />
2003 World Athletics Championships<br />
2007 Rugby World Cup<br />
2012 Olympics<br />
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Perhaps too much for one generation? I think so. London is a far more diverse and interesting city than Paris. It might cost an arm and a leg, but I think it’s time we had a major sporting event over here. I just hope we don’t have a dome or a Wembley. We need to prove that we can build stuff without cocking it up. Here’s our chance.<br />
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(Paris could bid for 2016. But they won’t get it, because it will be too soon to go to Europe again, and somewhere like Cape Town or Rio will get it. So they can wait for 2020, but then it’s Asia’s turn. So that leaves them with perhaps 2024. Hopefully they won’t have Chirac being rude about our food by then. Ha.)

Federer on the rack

Not on court, silly. He won against Hewitt in 3 sets. No, I was just looking at the interview transcript of his <a href=”http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2005-07-01/200507011120233727045.html”>press conference</a> afterwards, and it finished rather weirdly:<br />
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“Q. I don’t have any information about Juliette.<br />
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ROGER FEDERER: Me either.<br />
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Q. Why? Is your own animal. You don’t have information about her? You deserting her?<br />
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ROGER FEDERER: You’re the media guy. You have to find out.<br />
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Q. I’m not the media guy. I’m a novelist.<br />
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ROGER FEDERER: Well, I can’t give you any updates. I’m really sorry.<br />
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Q. You never take her to try with the Wimbledon grass, if she likes?<br />
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ROGER FEDERER: No, not really.<br />
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Q. What a pity.<br />
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ROGER FEDERER: Yeah (smiling).”<br />
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Ok, that’s just odd. What’s a novelist doing in a press conference? And why is he obessed with the cow that was given to Federer for winning Wimbledon in 2003?<br />
You can read the <a href=”http://news.ft.com/cms/s/03b49bbc-ea48-11d9-aa7a-00000e2511c8.html”>match report here</a> though (shamelessly plugging own article on FT.com).

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